ASEAN and Australia Review Progress of Comprehensive Partnership

Canberra – The 26th ASEAN-Australia Forum (AAF) was held in Canberra, Australia on 25-26 March. The Forum welcomed the 40th anniversary of the ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Partnership, which was launched in Manila, the Philippines on 20 February and the successful visit to Australia by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Le Luong Minh on 16-20 March, as part of the commemorative activities to celebrate the Anniversary.

Participants at the Forum reviewed the progress in the Implementation of the Plan of Action (POA) to implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership 2008-2014 and hoped to continue the effective implementation of the current POA. Both sides also looked forward to the adoption of the new POA for the period 2014-2018 at the ASEAN-Australia Commemorative Summit to be held in Myanmar in November as well as the implementation of other commemorative activities planned for this year.

The Forum further discussed ways and means to strengthen and enhance cooperation in areas such as disaster management, education, climate change and environment, public health, human trafficking, counter-terrorism, economic cooperation, connectivity and infrastructure development, public outreach and people-to-people contact. The New Colombo Plan, launched by the Australian Government in December 2013 as a signature initiative of Australia in this commemorative year to further strengthen education and people-to-people linkages between ASEAN and Australia, was also welcomed in this Forum.

ASEAN appreciated Australia’s strong commitment in supporting ASEAN’s effort to achieve its Community-building goals by 2015 and its post-2015 agenda, particularly through the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program Phase Two (AADCP II), which now has been extended until December 2019.

Australia reiterated its support for ASEAN’s central role in regional mechanisms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF). It also reaffirmed commitment to continue working with ASEAN to strengthen these mechanisms for peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region.

ASEAN and Australia exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interests and concerns. Both countries also expressed condolences for the victims of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH 370.

The Forum was co-chaired by H.E. Ms. Gilian Bird, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, and H.E. Mr. Luis T. Cruz, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines.